Installing flooring in a customer's home.... page 2
Another 15 minutes is spent to get the logs out of the woods. We have many skidding tools of all different sizes for each situation. My favorite skidding equipment is a fetching arch that is pulled with a radio-controlled winch mounted on our farm tractor. Moving the arch to the tree and pulling out the winch cable are the most physically demanding step of the whole process. Then the logs are picked up along the trail with the four wheel drive forwarder and carried out of the forest to the sawmill yard.
Next the logs are processed into lumber at the sawmill shed. The log is broken down into pieces using a headsaw. I now have an electric Woodmizer LT40 with the Super Hydraulics, Laser, Setworks, Debarker, and board drag-back features. Since I know that my goal is to make flooring that I will install myself, there is no pressure to produce grade lumber for the traditional wholesale lumber market. An edger saw is used to rip off the bark on the edges of boards, and to rip lumber lengthwise. A resaw is used to mill cants into lumber when quartersawing and sawing small diameter logs. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to saw an average log into lumber.
The lumber is then taken to the solar cycle kiln for drying. There is about a gallon of water in a 1"X6"X8' oak board that must be removed before manufacturing flooring. We carefully predry our hardwood lumber from about 90%MC to 12%MC in about 12 weeks before starting the kiln drying process. Another couple of weeks is needed to kiln dry the lumber to 6%MC in our solar heated kilns. The natural daily conditioning of a solar kiln produces top quality lumber without the need to steam condition the lumber at the end of the drying cycle. Our electric costs for our kiln operations are less than one fourth of one cent per board foot lumber dried. About two hours is needed to stack one thousand board feet of lumber in the kiln, and another hour to take it out when it is dry. Stacking lumber in the kilns is my least favorite work, but the task is made easier by thinking of them as $10 and $20 and $50 bills.
When the lumber is dry, we sort the boards according to their intended use. Our primary goal this year is to manufacture and install about 15,000 square of flooring. We produce several times that amount in dry lumber, so we also sell our excess lumber to woodworkers in our area. All dry wood is stored in a humidity controlled sales room in our remodeled dairy barn. Our 200 acre forest is growing more wood that I can keep up with at this time.
Boards that are made into flooring are taken to the sawmill shed where we rip them into straight flooring blanks using our edger saw. This operation can also be done on the sawmill or a table saw in the shop. Since we will be installing the flooring ourselves, we do many things to avoid wasting our own wood. Using a variety of widths that are not necessarily the industry standard (2 ¼ , 3 ¼ , 4 ¼ ) saves wood and makes the floor more interesting.